Series Preview – Los Angeles Angels vs. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers lost their win streak over the weekend in Baltimore, while the Angels fell victim to the Yankees. Both teams are coming into this week, knowing full well that a good push over the next four days could result in a jump closer to the top of their respective divisions. But both teams will have to do it without their aces, as luck had both Weaver and Verlander pitching today, and therefore absent from this week’s series. It’s time to define the weeks to come, so who will come out on top?
Monday – 7/16/12
Ervin Santana vs. Rick Porcello
Santana isn’t have a great year, by any means. His ERA is elevated (although not terrible, considering how many pitchers out there have elevated ERAs right now. So 5.75 is bad, but not by comparison. Still, he’s getting tagged with the losses when he gives up runs, leaving him at 4-9. The last thing Santana (and the Angels) wants is for the offense to take a day off to open up a big series. Luckily for Ervin, he’s 6-2 with a 3.57 ERA against Detroit in 53 innings. That’s a pretty nice confidence boost, especially when your offense has a habit of not showing up whenever you pitch. Doug Fister would like that same boost at some point here this season. He needs to watch out for Miguel Cabrera and Gerald Laird, though, because each has the numbers that suggest at least one hit off of Santana. Considering how Cabrera’s started the second half, that one hit may be all it takes to change the game.
Rick Porcello really turned it around going into the All-Star break. He’s looking to build on that success, and blow the second half of the season wide open. It’s going to be tough for him to get to 14 wins again with only six in his first 17 starts, but it’s still doable. Even if he repeats the same number of wins the second half, he’ll still be a respectable number four starter. But he’s always been promised to be more than just a 12-game winner. He needs to prove that he is more, and now is the right time to do it. If he could pitch his way to 10 wins in his final 17 starts, it would go a long way towards accomplishing that goal. He stands the best chance of all the Tigers’ starters this week of keeping Trout and Trumbo in the park, but he gives up a lot of runs against L.A. (5.97 ERA). Luckily, though, he always seems to get a good boost of run support when he does.
Tuesday – 7/17/12
TBD vs. Jacob Turner
Drew Smyly made a return trip to the Disabled List with a strained side. He tweaked it before the break, but it didn’t start affecting him until after. So Jacob Turner will make a spot start (possibly two) for him. Turner didn’t fare too well last season in three major league starts. But he was really good in his one start this season. He’ll be looking to build on that success, hopefully pitch more than five innings, and get his first major league win. He faced the Angels in one of his starts last season, but no one had any real success against him. Whether they will have a better scouting report this time remains to be seen. The Angels have yet to release who will be taking the place of Dan Haren this time around in the rotation.
Wednesday – 7/18/12
C.J. Wilson vs. Doug Fister
C.J. Wilson is making more than the most of his free agency contract this season. In the past, he’s been good, but not great. He had a 16-win season last year, but he’s looking to make that look like a bad season with the performance he turned in the first half of the year. With a 2.43 ERA and nine wins, he would easily be the ace on most pitching staffs. He only has a couple of starts against the Tigers, though, and an elevated 5.56 ERA in those starts. So the Tigers can hit him around well. None of them have any sort of gaudy numbers, but four or five of them always seem to come up with a couple of key knocks against Wilson. So they’re hoping to do that once again, despite his phenomenal season.
Doug Fister is finally starting to look like himself again. It would appear that the injury basically put him in a situation where the first half of the season was his spring training, and now he’s heating up in a big way. He kept the Orioles down well on Friday, and wants to do the same to his old division foes, the Angels. He doesn’t have a great record against them, but his ERA is respectable (3.95). So if he keeps them to three or four runs, he at least gives the offense a very good chance of winning. Unfortunately, Howie Kendrick and Erik Aybar have pretty good numbers against Doug, so he’ll have to try and keep them off the bases, while at the same time navigating his way around the Trumbo/Trout/Pujols gauntlet.
Thursday – 7/19/12
Jerome Williams vs. Max Scherzer
Williams is having a pretty so-so season right now, but has really struggled in his last three starts. His ERA is elevated in that time (near seven and a half), and he doesn’t have a win. He’s never faced the Tigers, so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare against him. Scherzer, like Williams, has almost no experience against the Angels. He lasted four and a third innings in his one start, took the loss, and had a 6.23 ERA. His start may have been shortened by injury, though, because none of the Angels have gaudy numbers or more than three at-bats against him. So it’ll be interesting to see what he can do this time. His biggest problem will be the fly balls, because a fly ball from Trumbo or Trout could easily mean a home run with each and every at-bat.
Game 1: Tigers
Game 2: Tigers
Game 3: Angels
Game 4: Tigers
Final: Tigers win series 3-1
It seems unlikely, given the play of the Angels lately, but without Haren and Weaver, the Angels’ rotation isn’t anything special. Wilson is an issue, and I think the Angels will definitely win that game, but the other three are up for grabs, and given the current pitching matchups, experience weighs in favor of the Tigers for the next four days.